Many things can cause anxiety and many things can cause insomnia. You put the two together, and it turns into a devastating combo. You may know or you wouldn’t be reading this article right?
The two problems, anxiety and insomnia, coexist together so well that it is hard to even tell which is causing the other, or both!
If you have anxiety, you stay stressed a lot about whatever it is. Your job, things you have to do, life, etc. Having this stress leads to not being able to relax which keeps you awake at bed time.
This is more common for most than the other way around which is you can’t sleep and that fear of not being able to sleep causes your anxiety and then you really won’t be getting any sleep! It is like a snowball effect.
Either way, both ways stink and can lead to all sorts of health and psychological problems, the most popular being depression. Without sleep, we just can’t function or be who we are.
So, how can we calm the anxiety to sleep? For the majority, some simple lifestyle changes will get you back to snoozing in no time.
How To Calm Anxiety to Sleep?
The key is being able to relax, and to be able to relax, we need to start changing or adding some things in our life. Those things are:
Not surprising right? The problem is most do not want to do it. The main reason is laziness, but we don’t say “no, I’m lazy”. We say “I don’t have time”. I know I’ve used that excuse many times.
The reality is 80% of health problems can be fixed with exercise, including sleep related problems like anxiety and sleep. My own doctor told me this.
Whether you choose to join a gym, ride a bike, play some recreational sports, or simply walk/jog a few times a week, the point is just do something!
For anxiety and insomnia, the best time is in the evening before dinner. You don’t want to exercise right before bed because it will only increase your heart rate and get you “wired up” per say.
If you do it 3 or 4 hours before bed, it will help you relax and relaxing is the always the first step to sleep.
Simply cut back your dinner and add more to your lunch, or cut back on both if you really want! It can only help!
Though, if you love your food like I do, just cut back on your dinner and add to your lunch if you don’t want to miss those calories.
Why? Eating a big meal at night sets you up for a sleepless night. The more food you eat at night, the more your body has to work and digest that food through the night which makes it hard to go to sleep, and if you do find sleep, you will only sleep lightly.
It also will improve your figure because your body stores more fat while you sleep (your body is not active so it stores it, unlike during the day when you are active and burns it).
Reducing extra work on your body during the night reduces anxiety and stress, which again, helps do the key first step, relax.
Lights Are The Enemy
Turn them off. It is just that simple. This includes lights from screens such as your tv or laptop/tablet/phone.
At least 30 min. before bed, you should be helping your body by giving it the signs that sleep is coming. The best way to do this is make the room darker.
You may be asking “what do I do before bed with no lights?”. Take a bath, read a book, talk to your partner if you have one, listen to some music, etc.
The point is making yourself get in relax mode. Now, I’m not saying complete darkness because of course you can’t read or take a bath in darkness. Just make sure you dim the lights to a relaxing feel.
Why do lights keep me awake? Light tells our brain that it is still day time and if our brain still thinks it is day time then it will not send sleep signals.
I could go more in depth on this about hormone levels etc., but lets just keep it simple by saying light is your enemy at bed time.
Set Bed Time
This is fairly self explanatory. Don’t expect to sleep well when you go to bed at 10pm one night and 11:30 the next then 9pm the next.
As the old saying goes, your body will not know if it is coming or going.
Go to bed within a 30 min. set time. If you normally go to bed at 10pm for example, then make sure you are in bed between 9:45 and 10:15.
Your brain needs routine for sleep. The more routine you give it, the more it will reward you with sleep!
Caffeine a No-No
I know, this is like preaching to the choir, but seriously you wouldn’t believe how many people complain about not being able to sleep, and the night before they drank tea with their supper. This is an easy one.
Don’t ingest any caffeine after lunch. I use the keyword ingest because that means no chocolate dessert after you eat supper! Caffeine is caffeine no matter where it comes from.
We are aiming for relaxation. You can’t get hyped on caffeine and expect to relax before bed.
Write it Down
Probably the most popular problem that many of us have when going to bed is freeing our mind. We lay down and start thinking about tomorrow and what we have to do etc. If it isn’t the future, it is dwelling on the past.
It is easy to get caught up on thinking about the day you just had and the more you think about these things the more you start worrying or the more your mind starts racing and this turns into restlessness.
This is exactly the type of thing we are trying to avoid so what do we do? Write it down! You can take about 30 minutes of your “lights out” time to do this before bed.
Turn on a dim lamp, write all your worries and cares away on a pad and forget about it! It will be there tomorrow for your mind to pick back up. It is time to rest. Let it go and sleep!
Room Temp, Clutter, and the Bed
Anxiety and Insomnia can be remedied by your surroundings. Besides, it is all about how you feel. You are not going to feel too well when your bedroom is a mess.
A cluttered room has a claustrophobic affect. It can make you feel enclosed and dirty and this makes anxiety turn on.
Same goes for the room temperature. If you are too hot, you are not cozy. If you are too cold, again you are not cozy. The recommended room temperature for sleep is 65 degrees.
This is normally right at “cool” for most people and just enough for you to still be able to get under the covers and not get hot.
And without a cozy bed, you will not be getting anywhere with all these steps combined. A good mattress is probably the most important thing when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
Yes, mattresses are expensive, but you spend over a third of your life on it! How long have you had your mattress? Can’t remember? If so, treat yourself to a good mattress. Your body and mind need it.
To summarize, we are trying to get your mind and body to relax. To do this takes a little preparation every evening. Once, you get yourself in a routine of going through some of these steps, it will be hard NOT to fall asleep!
There are many more methods to help with falling asleep fast that we discuss here. There is no point in rewriting what has already been said so be sure to check that out if you are looking for more ideas to curing your anxiety and insomnia problem.